Welcome to Candytopia


We’ve waited for an entire year (by “we” I mean me), and I’m happy to officially announce that Candytopia has finally arrived!

Never heard of Candytopia or believe it’s located somewhere in a faraway land? Well, Dear Reader, the sweetest place on Earth is closer than you may think, and there are no passports or vaccines needed.

It’s a place you can visit anytime throughout the day or night and eat all the candy your little heart desires. It’s only a short walk away, and there’s no need to get dressed up in fine clothes.

The best way to visit Candytopia is in the middle of the night while wearing your pajamas. Money is not needed at the sweetest spot in town because your entry fee was paid weeks ago. And don’t worry about purchasing additional tickets for the young ones in your house. Unlike other fun places, there are no kids allowed. Confused? Don’t worry, this is gonna be one sweet story.

A long, long time ago on that old familiar street not so far away, Halloween was very different than it is now. For those seven magical years we spent growing up on Flamingo, if it looked like candy, then it was candy, so we ate it. We never worried about stuff people might put in it that would hurt us kids.

No one talked about that possibility because no one ever dreamed of doing such a despicable thing — not even Down the Street Bully Brad. Our only worries were kids jumping out from behind trees or bushes scaring us, or Bully Brad and his gang of three stealing our bags.

Back then, kids were free to roam the neighborhood by themselves, collecting as much candy as their bags could hold. For my three brothers, The Sister and me, there was one additional worry on Halloween: returning home with our candy haul and trying to avoid our dad before we could hide some of it. No matter how hard we tried, Dad always found our stash, and he was rather creative as to why we shouldn’t have an endless bounty of candy. Here are just a few examples.

• Rotten teeth: It’s been a parent’s justification since candy was invented and the reason we five kids needed to hide some when we got back home. Dad said eating too much candy on Halloween would lead to rotten teeth, and everybody knows rotten teeth eventually fall out.

With no teeth, how could we eat good food like an apple, much less candy, ever again? I loved apples, and I didn’t want my teeth to fall out. This was a very logical argument to six-year-old me, so I went along with not eating too much. That is until I got older and realized this argument wasn’t as good as eating all that candy.

• Dad’s Halloween Candy Eating Rule: My three brothers, The Sister and I enjoyed a storybook childhood growing up on Flamingo — except when it came to enjoying our Halloween candy bounty. Dad’s Halloween Candy Eating Rule was harsh, but he was unsympathetic and had a secret reason for it. After returning home, he had us kids dump all our bounty in a large Tupperware container on the center of the table. We were allowed to pick out three pieces each and enjoy them that night.

We watched as Dad placed the lid on the Tupperware containing all our candy and then whisked it away to a secret location which, despite our endless searches, none of us ever found.

• The perfect hiding place: The first place we hid our candy stash upon returning from trick-or-treating was in the bushes right below our bedroom windows, then we went inside. As usual, Dad dumped all the candy into the Tupperware container. After we went to bed, we waited an hour, opened the window retrieving our bags with plans to spend the rest of the night eating and enjoying our sweet rewards for outsmarting Dad. As we opened the bags, our victory was short-lived.

Our bags of candy had been replaced by bags of small rocks and a note that read: “Nice try! Now go to bed. Love, Dad.”

• Frozen: The next year it was Older Brother Richard’s great idea to hide candy in the huge deep freezer in the garage. On Halloween we put half our candy in Ziploc bags under bags of frozen squash, green beans, and okra. The next day to our surprise all the candy was still there with another note from Dad: “Enjoy eating frozen candy. Love, Dad.”

We tried putting the candy in the oven to thaw it out, but that didn’t work. Leaving it out in the sun didn’t work either because our dogs ate it before we could. And trust me, hitting a frozen candy bar with a hammer will only shatter it into about a bazillion uneatable pieces. The candy bar, not the hammer.

Finally frustrated, I tried to eat a full-size frozen Snickers bar. Yep, broke my tooth. That’s when Dad threw out the rest of our frozen candy telling us not to use his vegetable freezer for anything but vegetables.

• The attic: The last year we lived on Flamingo, it was The Sister who came up with a perfect place to hide our extra candy. She said, “Nobody ever goes up in the attic, not even Dad.”

We’d spent the last six years trying to outsmart him, but my brothers and I never thought about storing our candy in the attic. It wouldn’t freeze, it wouldn’t get eaten by our dogs, and Dad would never find it.

On Halloween night, with our candy stash secretly tucked up in the attic, we all went to bed knowing we’d soon enjoy candy all the way to Christmas. Unfortunately, for the next two days, because the weather was unseasonably warm, Dad kept us so busy doing yardwork we couldn’t get to our stash. By the time we did, all of our candy had melted and had to be thrown out.

Even though Dad always found where we had hidden our candy, we never found where he hid that Tupperware container. Years later when asked, Dad said he moved the location of the container each year because he knew we would never stop searching for it.

So why did he keep it if us kids never got any more? Simple, Mom didn’t like him to eat candy all day. She said it would rot his teeth and wasn’t on his diet. And that’s why he made nightly visits to Candytopia.

So where was the location of the sweetest place in our house when we lived back on Flamingo? To this day I still have no idea where it was. But I do know the location of Candytopia in our house. And that sweet secret I’ll never tell.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]